What’s the best ammunition for stalking?
A reader with a new rifle wants some advice. Bruce Potts gives his opinion.
Q: I have bought a new .243 Tikka T3X rifle for deer stalking and I would like some advice on the best ammunition to shoot in it.
You’ve made a good choice
A: Congratulations on buying a Tikka T3X — it will serve you well.
The .243 Win cartridge is the typical round for deer management as it is light recoiling, accurate and offers a good range of bullet weights and styles. It is the bullet that actually connects with the deer, so the choice of the bullet type shot from your .243 Tikka is the crucial part.
Difference between deer and vermin bullets
Your choice will also be dependent on the species of deer shot. A deer bullet, unlike a fox or vermin bullet, should penetrate sufficiently to the vitals and then expand — in other words, it is more controlled — whereas a vermin round is designed to expand quickly on thinner-skinned game.
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Large species deer in Scotland
Typically 90-gr and 100-gr bullets are favoured for .243 as these offer the aforementioned qualities. If you are shooting large-species deer in Scotland the minimum bullet weight is 100-gr anyway, so there is a limited choice. The Geco 105-gr Teilmantel factory load is excellent, as are the Federal 100-gr softpoints.
Fallow or roe deer
If, however, you are shooting fallow or roe in England or Wales bullet weights from 70-gr to 90-gr are good options. Again, make sure they are controlled expanding bullet types.
Some of the 55-gr to 65-gr loaded ammunition using softpoint bullets such as the Sierra GameKing are good for muntjac and Chinese water deer.
I would steer clear of the lighter 40-gr to 50-gr V-Max hollowpoint types as these expand quickly and can cause more venison damage than the heavier bullet types.